Thanksgiving and Eating in the 21st Century

When I was growing up in the United States in the 50’s our mothers read Emily Post and religiously inculcated proper table manners in us.  We were to put our napkin in our lap, carefully cut our food one piece at a time with the knife held in the right hand (if we were right-handed) and the fork in the left. We placed the knife on the upper lip of our plate when done and switched the fork to the right hand lifting the single piece we had cut to our mouths.  Our hands were to be placed in our lap whenever not in use.

A collection of “stray” people Viridiana (Silvia Pinal) brings to her uncle’s estate, take over the sumptuous dining room for an unforgettably raucous meal in Luis Buñel’s groundbreaking film in 1961.

In the 60’s, we began to travel. Young people traveled by freighter and hitchhiked through Europe and other exotic destinations while the more affluent took advantage of the upswing in air travel. In Europe we learned that both hands could be above the table at the same time throughout the meal.  We learned to hold our fork in the left hand and the knife in the right, no switching involved. The knife had several roles, to cut and to move the food onto our fork.

Some foods we were allowed to pick up with our fingers like fried chicken if we were eating in a casual setting. Hamburgers and other sandwiches were also exempt as was pizza.  What a surprise it was to discover some of our European neighbors picking up knife and fork to enjoy a hamburger!

Then there were Ethiopian, Pakistani and Indian foods where utensils were often not an option.  There were chopsticks for Asian food. Some Mexican dishes were traditionally eaten with only the aid of tortillas, Birria for example, and the omnipresent taco or burrito could only be held in your hands unless you wished to cause dismay in fellow dinners.

The golden arches of McDonald’s made their debut in the early 60’s again changing eating habits. Americans, Canadians and even Europeans have since succumbed to the necessity of grabbing meals in the short time periods allocated them for fortifying their bodies with “nutrients”.

For better or for worse eating habits have changed to fit our lifestyles. One great loss in these fast-moving times has been the lengthy meal with family and guests lingering and conversing sometimes for hours at the table. Thanksgiving is one of the few occasions where that tradition is still upheld. That is why it is important to gather friends and family and go out to dine or celebrate with a wonderful meal at home. If you choose to go out, Puerto Vallarta offers some great restaurants that will prepare and serve your special Thanksgiving meal in style and give you plenty of time to enjoy it. River Cafe in the Zona Romantica on the River Cuale (#4 Río Cuale Island) prepares a legendary meal for the celebration and Cafe des Artistes in downtown Puerto Vallarta (Calle Guadalupe Sánchez 740), as well as its sister restaurant Tuna Blanca in Punta de Mita, serve a scrumptious Thanksgiving meal I am told. Many other wonderful restaurants including Daiquiri Dick’s on the waterfront in the Zona Romantica will do the same (Olas Altas 314 on Los Muerto Beach).

I plan to spend my Thanksgiving with my favorite musicians, the talented flamenco group Tatewari, as they celebrate their 12th anniversary and introduce their new and best yet CD.  The CD is called XII.IV for their 12 years together and 4th CD.  The event will be held at the Tree House Bar in Jardin del Pulpo in their hometown of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, (Coral #66).  It will be a marvelous presentation of the group’s new and inspired original work and they have invited a number of talented guests to join them.

For the dinner show, Alfredo Jimenez and his wife Maria de Jesus of Tree House Bar will prepare a wonderful traditional Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings, as well as offering their famous barbequed ribs.  There will be some delicious salads for vegetarian and vegan options.  This lovely repast served in their intimate patio restaurant and accompanied by incredible music is sure to give guests even more for which to be thankful. The show will begin at 7:00 PM and reservations are recommended. ( or call 322 182 4026). Cover for show is 250 pesos.

Whatever you decide to do for Thanksgiving, enjoy your meal, no matter how simple, in a relaxed and festive manner. Take your time, enjoy your friends and have a delightful day!